Ford showcases VR at Gamescom 2017

A VR-driven tie-up with Forza Motorsport 6 saw the Detroit carmaker grab headlines at Gamescom

In creating the all-new high-performance Ford GT, the pioneers behind the supercar designed it not only to win races but also to serve as a test bed for new technologies and ideas for future vehicles across Ford’s vehicle lineup.

Gamescom 2017 just wrapped up in Cologne, Germany. It is one of Europe’s biggest games expos, comparable to E3 in the US. Amid the usual releases and demos that were showcased this year, Ford and Microsoft took centre stage to show off the Ford GT and Ford Focus RS in collaboration with Forza Motorsport 6. The two companies took part in a panel discussion about the growing relevance of digital driving experiences for consumers around the world.

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Forza Motorsport 6 came out in 2015 but has racked up some really interesting stats. According to Ford, players have collectively spent around 400 years driving a total of 466 million kilometres in its vehicles in the game. The Ford GT is the most driven car in the game, having covered 66 million kilometres. The other favourite is the acclaimed Focus RS hot hatchback.

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The Gamescom-Ford experience

At the exhibition, Forza served as a digital showroom for the American automaker, enabling more consumers than ever before to experience rare, high-performance vehicles such as the GT and Focus. Ford and Turn10 Studios spent nearly a year developing the virtual version of the Ford GT using real-world data from the supercar’s top-secret development process to deliver highly realistic looks, performance, and even engine and transmission sounds.

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Visitors to the stand discovered a host of interactive activities. These included an experience with the Ford Reality Check app using Google Daydream VR, a first of its kind. The app was created by Ford, Google and virtual reality studio Happy Finish.

It brings to life the potentially fatal consequences of driving while distracted. It cast users as a distracted driver picking up friends on the way to a party. Instant messages, phone calls and chatty passengers all compete for attention, sparking a series of near misses. The final disturbance eventually proves fatal due to the driver being distracted. The app’s creators hope it will encourage young people to develop safer driving practices.

Visitors were also able to experience Tincknell’s real-world lap of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium using 3D virtual reality headsets, while seated in the Focus RS.

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Ford’s virtual reality

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This isn’t the first time Ford has experimented with VR. The Detroit automaker uses VR to create vehicles as much as interact with customers.

Ford engineers use virtual reality in the development and production of new models. They can do this without the need for a physical prototype, thanks to immersive technologies. The company even employs full-body motion capture systems on employees to help increase efficiency on the assembly line.